Lori (Lamphier) Ankerud was born in 1958 in rural Springville, NY with a congenital heart defect known as tetralogy of Fallot. This rare condition is caused by a combination of four heart defects that are present at birth. These defects, which affect the structure of the heart, cause oxygen-poor blood to flow out of the heart and to the rest of the body. As an infant, her skin was blue-tinged because her blood did not carry enough oxygen. Lori’s twin sister was born healthy.
Surgical treatment of tetralogy of Fallot in this time period had promise, but somewhat inconsistent results. A two-stage process was generally regarded as prudent for infant care. Lori’s parents were frequently making the 60 miles round trip drive from Springville to Buffalo, NY for specialized cardiology care at the Buffalo Children’s Hospital. At the age of two, Lori underwent a Blalock Taussig shunt to connect her subclavian (arm) artery to her pulmonary (lung) artery to improve the blood flow to her lungs; this intervention allowed her lungs to develop normally. At the age of three, she underwent her first open heart surgery to close the ventricular septal defect (VSD) as well as eliminate pulmonic stenosis or blockage of blood flow to the lungs. This allowed Lori to have normal oxygen levels, improved blood flow to her lung arteries, lowered the pressure in her right ventricle and allowed her heart to grow normally. At the age of eleven, Lori underwent an in hospital cardiac catheterization procedure and maintained annual cardiology visits through her teenage years focusing attention on the development of her artistic abilities, specifically pencil drawings and painting.
Lori grew into healthy adulthood, married in 1985 and has raised two children with her husband, Eric. Lori is a talented artist, devoted quilt maker, avid gardener, and multi-sport enthusiast. Lori has received specialized cardiac care at the Massachusetts General Hospital for more than 15 years. Later in life, Lori developed one of the most common complications of the childhood heart defect surgery, pulmonic regurgitation or leaky pulmonic valve. This leaky valve resulted in enlargement of her right sided pumping chamber as well as fluid retention, fatigue and arrhythmias. In 2015, she underwent major heart reconstructive surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital to replace her pulmonic valve with a bovine tissue valve and to rebuild the right chamber of her heart. The surgery was an extraordinary success and after 6 months of cardiac rehabilitation, Lori was feeling great! Since this surgery she has been doing exceptionally well and is enjoying life with her husband, her grown son and daughter, and her pets.
Over the past few decades, the diagnosis and treatment of tetralogy of Fallot have greatly improved. Recognizing this progress, understanding the exceptional care that she has received, and with the encouragement of treating physicians, Lori and Eric decided this story needed to be told in support of others impacted by a congenital heart defect. With tremendous enthusiasm, Eric and Lori established Heartfelt Dreams Foundation, Ltd., as a New Hampshire based non-profit charitable corporation with Eric serving as President & CEO.